No Progress In WTO GI Extension Talks, Next Steps Unclear13/04/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.Officials holding consultations at the World Trade Organization today on whether geographical indication (GI) protection for wines and spirits should be extended to other products completed a list of questions on the issue, but made no progress on bridging differences. The next steps are now unclear as the overall WTO negotiations deadline of July is approaching.The consultations are chaired by WTO Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa on behalf of the director general. The half-day 13 April consultation was a “robust discussion” but there were “no substantive” alterations in member countries’ positions, although there was a “positive atmosphere,” Yerxa told Intellectual Property Watch.He said there was a better understanding of the issue but added that the “proposals remain contentious.” Yerxa said he would hold meetings with member countries if they requested it, and they should have meetings directly with each other, but he was also open to further plenary consultations with all countries. He said, however, that it would be difficult to hold such meetings during the next two weeks because of talks in other WTO negotiating areas in the lead-up to a 30 April deadline to set negotiating parameters in agriculture and non-agricultural market access.One participant said the discussions have become polarised with the European Union, Bulgaria, India, Sri Lanka and Switzerland speaking in favour of extension, and Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and the United States opposing it. Kenya also has previously expressed support for extension.An EU official told Intellectual Property Watch that they “obviously” had to “do some thinking too.” The official also said that it is clear now that it has become a trade negotiation with “our interests versus their interests” and not about arguments that had been raised by opponents previously. Such an argument is that GI extension would cause problems for the intellectual property rights system.The EU official also said that they could not wait very long before moving on the issue.An Indian official told Intellectual Property Watch that there was a conceptual difference as the opponents of GI extension were not accepting changes in rights and obligations. This was despite the proponents of GI extension having proposed the “least burdensome” implementation of the extension. Proponents also have proposed having the flexibility that is currently available to wines and spirits be available to all products, the official said. “They are not negotiating,” the official said.Another official from an opposing country said that there was no mandate to negotiate this issue in the Doha Declaration, and therefore there were just presentations of views at the moment.Proponents want the higher level protection that wines and spirits currently enjoy under Article 23 of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to also apply to other GI products, which currently have to be protected but only at the “regular” level under Article 22 of TRIPS (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 16 March 2006).Two officials from Switzerland and Italy, both particularly strong proponents of extension, said that some clarity in terms of the status of the procedure of these talks was needed.The list of 91 questions were submitted by member states and divided into various categories. The list has been the subject of consultations for several weeks, and today they discussed the following headlines: Impact of extension on the relationship between trademarks and GIs, impact of extension on the treatment of homonymous GIs, the impact of extension on consumers, and the administrative costs and burdens of the procedures associated with any extended protection and any other impacts on governments (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 24 March 2006).Yerxa must report to Director General Pascal Lamy, who must report to the Trade Negotiations Committee, which is driving overall talks under the current WTO negotiating round. Lamy must also report to the General Council, which by 31 July “shall review progress and take any appropriate action” on implementation issues, according to the Hong Kong Declaration.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"No Progress In WTO GI Extension Talks, Next Steps Unclear" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.